Olson Forum’s balcony sees a slow and steady reopening

For many students at Concordia College, the wait is finally over. Athletes and nonathletes  can once again exercise using equipment.

The balcony of Olson Forum, fitted with treadmills, ellipticals and weight machines, opened to all students on Monday, October 12. 

At the start of the Fall 2020 semester, all of Olson Forum had been closed to students and faculty due to COVID-19. While it is important for students to have access to a place on campus where they can work out, it has become a priority to keep students safe from exposure.

“I was a little worried because I knew students would be upset about not being able to work out with equipment on campus, but I think everyone can agree it was for the best to keep everyone safe,” said Concordia student Josie Schahn.

Fortunately, the weather this fall has been permitted and encouraged students to go outside to work out. On and around campus, many students can be seen running or doing socially-distanced workouts on the turf. Some students have gotten memberships at gyms in the area. 

While the weather this fall has been ideal, it will not last for much longer, which is why students have wanted to know when Olson Forum would be open to students. 

After months of planning, the balcony at Olson Forum will be opening with certain safety precautions put in place. Concordia student Abbey Frauenholtz is a staff member who will work on the balcony. She explained the safety precautions that will be implemented at the balcony.

“We are doing screening tests before you enter Olson Forum and we will take your temperature. The people at the front desk will be checking your time in and time out for tracing if necessary. You must sanitize your machine before and after using it. You must wear a mask at all times when you’re in there, even if you’re sprinting on the treadmill you must be wearing a mask,” said Frauenholtz.

A lot of planning has gone into the opening of Olson Forum. Olson Forum manager, Lindsey Halverson, led the initiative to get Olson Forum reopened.

“It was just necessary to close and not reopen until now until we knew everything was safe on campus with the COVID numbers.”

According to Concordia’s COVID-19 case count, the number of students and faculty that have contracted COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19 has decreased significantly. 

The low number of cases has also allowed Concordia athletics to start practices and lifting sessions. At the beginning of September, many athletic teams were mandated to do lifting sessions outside on the turf. As the weather has gotten colder, however, the lifting sessions have moved to the courts of Olson Forum.

“The workouts are all under supervision. They moved from the football field inside now with the weather changing so they are doing workouts in there by our strength and conditioning coach and that is for purposes so we can spread everybody out,” said Halverson. “That is what we feel comfortable with.”

Although the athletic teams are practicing on the courts in Olson Forum, the athletic department is not ready to open them to the rest of the students quite yet. By starting with the balcony, the athletic department is hoping to be able to transition forward and open more space for the entire Concordia community to have access. 

Halverson said the athletic department is doing all they can to try to reopen Olson Forum for all students.

“I think this would be great for our entire community because I’m a huge exercise person and I think that exercise does a lot for your mental well-being. We are in a good spot and we are able to open up a little at a time and I think for our overall community it should be good for physical well-being and mental as well.”

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